It’s not a bad plan, once in a while, to check up the facts and figures that are given you. I remember one lightning calculator I had working for me, who would catch my questions hot from the bat, and fire back the answers before I could get into position to catch. Was a mighty particular cuss. Always worked everything out to the sixth decimal place. I had just about concluded he ought to have a wider field for his talents, when I asked him one day how the hams of the last week’s run had been averaging in weight. Answered like a streak; but it struck me that for hogs which had been running so light they were giving up pretty generously. So I checked up his figures and found ’em all wrong. Tried him with a different question every day for a week. Always answered quick, and always answered wrong. Found that he was a base-ball rooter and had been handing out the batting averages of the Chicagos for his answers. Seems that when I used to see him busy figuring with his pencil he was working out where Anson stood on the list. He’s not in Who’s Who in the Stock Yards any more, you bet.
Your affectionate father,
From John Graham, at Magnolia Villa, on the Florida Coast, to his son, Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago. The old man has started back to Nature, but he hasn’t gone quite far enough to lose sight of his business altogether.
MAGNOLIA VILLA, February 5, 1900.
Dear Pierrepont: Last week I started back to Nature, as you advised, but at the Ocean High Roller House I found that I had to wear knee-breeches, which was getting back too far, or creases in my trousers, which wasn’t far enough. So we’ve taken this little place, where there’s nothing between me and Nature but a blue shirt and an old pair of pants, and I reckon that’s near enough.
I’m getting a complexion and your ma’s losing hers. Hadn’t anything with her but some bonnets, so just before we left the hotel she went into a little branch store, which a New York milliner runs there, and tried to buy a shade hat.
“How would this pretty little shepherdess effect do?” asked the girl who was showing the goods, while she sized me up to see if the weight of my pocketbook made my coat sag.
“How much is it?” asked your ma.
“Fifty dollars,” said the girl, as bright and sassy as you please.
“I’m not such a simple little shepherdess as that,” answered your ma, just a little brighter and a little sassier, and she’s going around bareheaded. She’s doing the cooking and making the beds, because the white girls from the North aren’t willing to do “both of them works,” and the native niggers don’t seem to care a great deal about doing any work. And I’m splitting the wood for the kitchen stove, and an occasional fish that has committed suicide. This morning, when I was casting through the surf, a good-sized drum chased me up on shore, and he’s now the star performer in a chowder that your ma has billed for dinner.